Two kinds of libertarianism

A writer who goes by the nom de plume “Hamilton” says that both Republican and Democratic intellectuals and policy makers are essentially libertarians.  (He says that there are few old-school socialists or New Dealers left in the Democratic party.)  But there are two different kinds of libertarians:  the school of John C. Calhoun and the school of Robert Heinlein.

Calhoun was the 19th century statesman from South Carolina who was a major spokesman for state’s rights, limited government, and individual rights.  Heinlein was the 20th century science fiction writer who championed individual liberty empowered by technology.   Calhounian libertarians are socially conservative, religious, and inhabit the Republican party.  Heinleinian libertarians are the socially liberal, tend to be involved in the new information technology, and are usually Democrats.

But Hamilton thinks that Calhoun and Heinlein could form an alliance.  I would  question the authenticity of a libertarianism that defends slavery, as Calhoun did, and that supports the power of one person over another that we see in abortion, as Democratic  libertarians tend to do.  But still. . . .What do you think of Hamilton’s analysis, given after the jump? [Read more…]

Has America shifted to the left?

The recent elections herald a political shift in America to the left.  So says liberal columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., citing the overall defeat of Tea Party candidates, the victory of the pro-gun control, pro-abortion Terry McAuliffe in once-conservative Virginia, the “new progressivism” of New York’s newly-elected mayor Bill Blasio, and the victory of Republican Chris Christie who repudiated his party’s right wing. [Read more…]

Election Day post-mortem

Virginians elected Democratic operative Terry McAuliffe, even though he had never held elective office, supports gun control, champions same-sex marriage, and is militantly pro-abortion.  The once-reliably Republican state picked him over the socially-conservative attorney general Ken Cuccinelli.  My prediction:  Terry McAuliffe, whose career has been defined by his friendship with Bill Clinton, will eventually run for president (but won’t against Hillary Clinton).

Meanwhile, fiery Republican moderate Chris Christie was overwhelmingly re-elected governor in New Jersey, which usually votes Democratic.  My prediction:  This positions him as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

In other election results, New Yorkers elected avowed leftist Bill Blasio to be their mayor, the first non-Republican in 20 years.  Colorado, having legalized recreational marijuana use, now decided to tax the heck out of it, levying a 25% tax.  Washington state rejected a measure that would require genetically-modified food to be labeled.  Houston rejected a plan to fix up the Astrodome, meaning the first domed baseball stadium will face demolition.  And Takoma Park, Maryland, became the first city to give the right to vote to 16-year-olds.

What does all of this mean?  Some observers are saying that this election marks the end of the Tea Party movement as an effective political force.  Are they right?  Any interesting or significant election results from where you are? [Read more…]

What to do about gerrymandered elections?

An issue for election day:  One of the problems in our political system today is that Congressional districts have been drawn up to ensure that each one is a “safe seat” for the incumbent and a particular political party.  That means that voters almost never have competitive elections with genuine choices–unless, that is, the incumbent has a primary rival from the same party.  This makes for ideological polarization, say many observers, as well as thwarting the basic processes of democracy. [Read more…]

Pulling back from the culture wars?

Church historian Martin Marty discusses how conservative Christians are pulling back from the culture wars.  He cites the leadership of Pope Francis for the Roman Catholics and Russell Moore for the Southern Baptists.  An additional factor is the increasing secularization of the conservative movement, citing the Tea Party’s general indifference to moral issues the church has been concerned with.  (He might have added the active atheism and hostility to Christianity of the hard-core libertarian followers of Ayn Rand.)

Read what Dr. Marty has to say–and what I have to say about what he says– after the jump.   [Read more…]

Madisonian politics

George Will has found something that President Obama and the Tea Party have in common:  Both disdain Madisonian politics; that is, the checks and balances that require the different factions to compromise with each other, as built into the very structure of Constitutional governance. [Read more…]